SHEDDING LIGHT ON AN RFI ISSUE
STEPHEN/ANCHOR: Our report begins this week with an RFI detective story. We've all experienced interference on the bands - but one ham in Maine followed its trail and found a rather unconventional source. Amateur Radio Newsline's Kent Peterson KC-ZERO-DGY (KC0DGY) spoke to him.
ROGER: It first started about three years ago I have a pan adapter and was looking at the 160 meter band which is the band I operate most. I noticed down at the end of the band was a strange looking signal down there and wondered what heck was that? Then later on as the season went on this signal gradually kept increasing.
KENT That's Roger Johnson N1RJ of Limington Maine talking about his discovery of RFI on his favorite ham band.
ROGER I went on the web and found out it was pretty much the signature of a switched mode power supply. I found out this was probably a a grow light. Since these grow light ballasts operate at power levels up to thousand watts. A lot of them are ordered from the far east and have fake FCC compliance stickers, so there's no filtering built into these things at all.
KENT Johnson's hunt for the interference was on.
ROGER I started to do some DFing I made a SDR receiver and started driving around until I found the guy. I went up and talked with him. A nice young guy who was astonished to find out he was creating interference to someone a mile away. He showed me all around his grow operation, he has a marijuana grow license and he's very proud of his operation. I got to thinking about that, I don't want to report him to the FCC because they'll issue him to cease and desist order, he'll have 30 days solve the problem or or shut down. How is he going to solve the problem he's not an RF guy? He bought these ballasts in good faith, but they have a false FCC sticker on them. If he goes out and buys new ballasts, there is nothing assuring him he'll not get another batch of bad ballasts. He's providing a service and he's doing it honestly and complying with Maine law.
KENT Johnson estimated this guy could be looking at an additional thousand dollar expense to filter his ballasts. He went on to tell me he proposed legislation to get the state to ban ballasts that produced interference. His suggestion was for out-of-compliance ballasts to be refunded or replaced with a units that doesn't�t produce noise, but that proposal died in the Maine Senate. Johnson pointed out the FCC had about 300 field engineers back in 1960, today that number now sits at 43.
ROGER: What are the chances getting a field engineer to drive five or six hundred miles on a complaint some ham has to interference complaint from grow lights? I think it is nil.
ROGER: With Maine and more and more states legalizing these grow of marijuana I can see these small time guy these are going to spring up like mad. These things legally cannot be imported since they don't meet the rules for conducted radiated interference. But no one is minding the store, They're bringing in these things by the thousands if these grow operations take off. It is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. If they just keep issuing letters to these offenders, they're going to run out of stationery pretty soon because there's going to be too many of them.
WWV: THE DAY THAT TIME STOOD STILL
STEPHEN/ANCHOR: Daylight Saving Time, which starts Sunday, March 12, confuses lots of people - at least temporarily. But radio station WWV had another issues recently with keeping. Here's Newsline's Neil Rapp WB9VPG.
NEIL's REPORT: Radio Station WWV, operated by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology, continually transmits the current time on several frequencies from just outside Fort Collins, Colorado. If you tuned into WWV recently, and it seems they disappeared... well, it wasn't another David Copperfield TV special. WWV was off the air recently for installation of a 250 kVA backup generator. Matt Deutch, N0RGT is the chief engineer at WWV, and explains what took place.
MATT: We've had the same diesel generator to back up WWV since 1967, 68 something like that, and it worked wonderfully for us, but over the years it has slowly started to accumulate its problems. And the reliability was in question. It was having trouble starting sometimes especially when we needed it, and so the division scraped together some money and said let's get a new generator. So we've installed a new generator. The testing isn't done quite yet. We're still in the midst of... Cummins is gonna test it... but we've run it. We have a new automatic transfer switch, and we're hoping to do a load test next week and transfer it onto the building also and make sure everything works okay.
NEIL: Matt further explains what took place instead of the expected two days of service outage that was anticipated.
MATT: That was to pull the new cable through the conduit... put in new conduit and pull cable through it, and reconnect it to the distribution panel. So it was just for safety measure for the workers to work on that equipment. And it went a lot faster than we thought it would, which is good. And so, we just had two short outages instead of the day long outages like we had anticipated.
NEIL: So for the couple of weeks until the testing is complete, WWV is running without a backup generator. And ironically, that's exactly the time that an unexpected outage took place.
MATT: We did have one outage that was unscheduled. We need the generator about once every five years. And, we did have a snow storm last week, and one of our outages was unplanned. We didn't have a backup generator, and sure enough we lost power. We were off the air for about two hours without a backup generator.
NEIL: The generator will be fully functional soon, and WWV will be back to being all time, all the time. And it sure was fun to call WWV and ask, "What time is it?" But alas, it's happened many times before.
A MEDAL FOR HER MORSE CODE
STEPHEN/ANCHOR: A 90-year-old former Morse Code operator in the UK has just been honored for her World War 2 service, as we learn from Newsline's Jeremy Boot G4NJH.
JEREMY: A World War II wireless operator who used her Morse Code skills transmitting coded messages between India and England has been awarded a war medal recognising her service. Diana O'Brien is now 90 years old. She was 17 and her name was Diana Ballantyne when she joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in 1944. She'd decided to help the war effort even more by learning Morse Code and working as a wireless operator.
She trained at Henley-on-Thames and Bletchley Park but was eventually posted to India, where she worked in Delhi and then Calcutta, transmitting coded messages back to England, supporting troops behind enemy lines in Burma. She returned to the UK in October of 1945 and eventually married and settled in the Lake District.
The Mayor of Shrewsbury, where Diana has lived since 2015, presented her recently with the campaign War Medal 1939-1945.
Her family told the Westmorland Gazette that her spirit for public service stayed with her even after the war. Before moving into a residential care home, she volunteered for a number of local organisations, including the Women's Royal Voluntary Service, the League of Friends at Westmorland County Hospital, the Red Cross, the Victoria League and the Women's Institute.
NOMINATE YOUR "YOUNG HAM OF THE YEAR"
STEPHEN/ANCHOR: This is another reminder that the nomination period has opened for Amateur Radio Newsline's Bill Pasternak Memorial Young Ham of the Year Award. We accept nominations through May 31. Candidates must be 18 or younger and be a resident of the United States, its possessions or any Canadian province. Find application forms on our website arnewsline.org under the "YHOTY" tab. The award will be presented on August 19th at the Huntsville Hamfest in Huntsville, Alabama.
SHE'S A SCHOLAR - AND A TOP HAM
STEPHEN/ANCHOR: Ham radio may have just helped launch the physics career of one Indiana teenager. Here's Newsline's Neil Rapp WB9VPG.
NEIL: Maria Lysandrou, KD9BUS, is one of 150 students nationally to be named a Coca-Cola Scholar. Maria was selected from over 86,000 applicants. The scholarship program focused mostly on community involvement, which included her music -- and of course ham radio. The senior at Bloomington High School South in Bloomington, Indiana, who is the president of the Amateur Radio Club, plans to study physics next year... partially due to her involvement in the school's ham radio program. Maria explains how ham radio played a role in landing this $20,000 scholarship.
MARIA: For some of the essays, they were just mainly about leadership and how you've been a leader throughout your community... and one of my communities was that I talked about ham radio. So, I talked about how I'm a woman in science, and how I go to my research lab and I'm one of the only people in my astrophysics research lab. I'm the only woman in my research lab, and it makes me want to continue to pursue science because I want to merge that gender gap in science, especially in physics. And so, I talked about ham radio and how during contests I'm like one of the only women on air, and how I went to the Dayton Hamvention. Mr. Rapp invited me to the Dayton Hamvention, and he contacted the people there, and I actually talked at the educator forum... at the teachers' forum. And I talked about how to get more women in science and more women in ham radio specifically. And so, I talked about how I hope to, in my future, to be a leader in ham radio and be a leader for women in ham radio especially younger women.
NEIL: Maria will be making her college selection soon, as she puts the finishing touches on AP Chemistry.
K2BSA ACTIVATIONS IN LOUISIANA AND OHIO
STEPHEN/ANCHOR: Radio Scouts are back on the air with more activations this week, as we hear from Newsline's Bill Stearns NE4RD.
BILL'S REPORT: This week in Radio Scouting we have 2 activations of the K2BSA callsign in LA and OH, 2 activations from Scout Camps on the Air, and we're eight months out to Jamboree On The Air.
Michael Nolan, KD5MLD, will be the control operator for the K2BSA portable 5 station at the Istrouma Area Council Centennial at Airline Highway Parish Park in Baton Rouge, LA, on March 23rd to 26th. Michael will be operating on Friday evening from 6pm until 10pm central, on 3905 (+ or - 5k) and on Saturday during the day from 8am to 4pm central on 7225, (+ or - 5k) or 14270 (+ or - 5k), depending on band conditions. There will be demonstrations of CW and other digital modalities during the celebration. Those frequencies will primarily be in the 40 & 20 meter band plans. Code will be around 10 to 13 wpm. They are expecting around 5000 scouts to attend this event.
John Baddour, KC8KI, will the control operator for the K2BSA portable 8 station at the Radio Merit Badge Midway Classes at Lorain County Joint Vocational School in Oberlin, OH, on March 25th. John will be working with scouts on their Radio Merit Badge and will most likely be on VHF and possibly HF for the on-air component of the program.
Gary Hinton, AC7R, will be the control operator for KJ7BSA at the Mesa District Varsity Scout Mongollon Mountainman Rendezvous at Camp Geronimo in Payson, AZ, on March 18th. Gary will have scouts on the air on HF, VHF, and UHF. Scouts will also be doing a Fox Hunt.
Chuck McBride, WS5ADV, will be the control operator for WS5BSA at the Webelos Woods for Sooner District of the Last Frontier Council at John Nichols Scout Camp in Oklahoma City, OK, on March 25th. Chuck will have a FT-817 QRP rig on 17 and 20 meters on a half-wave dipole antenna. This group will also be monitoring VHF and UHF.
We're eight months out for JOTA, so hopefully you've been following our countdown suggestions on our website. This month you should be contacting your local clubs for support and personnel, and get on the agenda at a club meeting to inform the members of what JOTA is and how they can help. Now is also the time to register your event on the JOTA-JOTI registration system, last year this was a slightly complicated process. So, the earlier the better to get started on that! Also, try to look for events on the scout calendars where you can do a demostration station.
HURRICANE WATCH NET'S DON KAY K0IND, SK
STEPHEN/ANCHOR: A founding member of the Hurricane Watch Net has become a Silent Key, as we hear from Newsline's Mike Askins KE5CXP.
MIKE's REPORT: The Hurricane Watch Net has lost one of its original members, U.S. Air Force Col. Don Kay K0IND. He became a Silent Key on March 1 following a three-year battle with lung cancer.
Don, a native of Detroit, Michigan, and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, served in the Air Force after attending Basic Flight School and later became an All Weather Pilot. Don's military service lasted from 1946 until 1977 and included 175 combat missions, including more than 610 hours in Vietnam, where he was with the Vietnam Defense Campaign and Air Campaign from April 1965 to March 1966.
He was known to many as a devoted ham and Elmer and qualified for his amateur radio license in the early 1950s while stationed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is considered a co-founder of the Hurricane Watch Net, which he joined in 1965 as one of the original members. He was assistant net manager for 23 years and later, net manager for four, ending in 1992. He even designed the Hurricane Watch Net logo in the early 1980s.
Don Kay was involved with the Maritime Mobile Service Net and Air Force MARS, working as well with the Medical Amateur Radio Conference, where he helped missionaries and doctors running phone patches in the Caribbean and Central America.
Through his assistance in the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana in 1978 and the Grenada conflict in 1983. Don was added to the Congressional Record in recognition of his work by Sen. Barry Goldwater K7UGA, now a Silent Key.
Don Kay was 89.
WORLD OF DX
In the World of DX, the F6KOP expedition team is in the Ivory Coast operating as TU7C through March 19th. They will be active on all HF bands CW, SSB and Digital. Send QSL cards to F1ULQ or the Web page OQRS.
Listen on all bands, from 160 through 10 meters, for a multi-national team operating from Niger as 5U5R until March 20th. They are operating on SSB, CW and RTTY. Send QSL cards to EA5RM.
Also through March 20th, be listening for the "Echo India" DXPedition team operating from Nepal as 9N7EI. The team is operating as many as five stations continuously over their nine-day period in Nepal and can be heard on all bands and modes, 80 meters through 10 meters. They are working 40 kilometers outside Kathmandu about 6,000-feet above sea level. The group's QSL manager is M-ZERO-OXO.
KICKER: FOLLOW THE 'MORSE CODE BRICK ROAD'
STEPHEN/ANCHOR: Our final story is all about how Morse Code has gotten underfoot - literally - on two college campuses. Here's Newsline's Paul Braun WD9GCO.
PAUL'S REPORT: To those hams who thought learning Morse Code was hard - possibly even harder than a brick - meet artist Jackie Ferrara whose works feature Morse Code numbers and letters that actually ARE bricks. The colorful objects, set into walkways and walls, spell out words in Morse Code in at least two public spaces Jackie redesigned and redefined: a walkway at the University of Rochester in upstate New York and a memorial rooftop garden at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
In Rochester, her patterned walkways outside the Memorial Art Gallery spell out the gallery's name and the name of the school in red and dark brick dots and dashes. At Tufts University, Code was used to spell out the name of a young man who killed himself in 2003 during his sophomore year. The library rooftop garden is now dressed in planters, decorative mosaic brick, a sundial - as well as the student's name spelled out in Morse.
More recently, Jackie's Code-infused creations turned up on the walls of a New York City art gallery exhibit in a collection of line drawings. Here, Morse Code was used to spell out titles of films the artist has collected over time.
It's not clear whether Jackie Ferrara has actually memorized - or can even copy - Code, or has ever used a bug or even a straight key. But her career has been long and it has also been successful, so clearly she's getting her message across somehow, one brick at a time
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